Meet up at the Tavern

On July 17th, I attended the D.C. Cosplay Photo Shoots’ meet up at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum in the Old Town area of Alexandria, Virginia.  This location is a historical site made up of two buildings a tavern, which has been in operation since 1785, and the former boarding house/hotel.  We had access two the two large ballrooms within the museum, the stairwell, and the outside of the build. We were unable to shoot in the tavern proper as they were preparing for brunch service.

For these sessions I used:

  • Canon 80D
  • 1 Speed lights
  • Trigger
  • Light stand
  • Extra small soft box
  • 18-200mm lens

This shoot was a mix of indoor and outdoor locations, with most images being shot indoors. For this event I used an ISO of 200.  My aperture varied from F4 to F11 with the most common F-stop being F8.  I was keeping my F-stop high just for depth of field as I was shooting both singles and duos. My shutter speed ranged from 1/25s to 1/640s, with the most common speed being 1/250s. I wanted to keep my shutter speed high just to reduce the potential for lens shake. While I do have image stabilization on my lens, it is best to have a shutter speed that equal to or faster than the length of your lens, when shooting handheld.  My focal length ranged from 18mm to 50mm with the most common being focal length being 18mm.   I was asked during the shoot, why I was using off camera flash when we had beautiful natural light coming through the windows.  I was using off camera flash to keep my ISO low, while keeping a narrow aperture and a high shutter speed.  Additionally, I tend to use off camera flash to fill in shadows and it also allows me to be a little more creative with lighting when I don’t have an assistant to hold a reflector.  I have nothing against natural light, I’m just more comfortable using off camera flash.

My favorite image from the shoot is of Darthspree as a 17th century pirate.  He was fun to work with and even had his own tankard and gold pieces to use as props.  For the image below I had my flash a little up and to the right. I used a bit of mix metering, so that the scene outside the window was visible while keeping the inside setting visible.  The flash lit the cosplayer while also providing fill to the inside setting.  This is way you are seeing a shadow from being cast by the cosplay, now that I think about it, I should have placed a CTO gel on the flash to give the scene a warm candle light glow. I did standard edits on the image during post processing and added a bit of a vignette to the image.

ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/160s, Focal Length 18mm

I love couples that cosplay together, and one of my favorite couples to work with is Impressionistic Cosplay.  For this event they were portraying a colonial period couple. It was their idea to use the piano as a prop, while the piano could not be played, we were able to fake it for the photo.  To get this photo I had the flash high and two my right, and set to a very wide spread to ensure proper coverage.  I did edit the image in post. I first balanced the image and then balanced the lighting on the subjects to ensure they were both evenly lit.  I also went and adjusted the color slightly of the dress to tone down the green and orange slightly, as they were presenting too bright, particularly the green. I also removed the reflection of the flash from the window.  I then finished the image with a vignette.

ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 18mm

Now who says you can’t cosplay a sci-fi character in a historical setting, Coralinx Cosplay would never say that.  She cosplayed Captain Mal Reynolds from Firefly, and fit right into the historical setting. Since I was familiar with both the movie/series this character is from, I knew what type of lighting would work for the character.  In this image I placed the cosplayer in the corner, and then placed my flash up and to my right. I also zoomed the flash slightly to narrow the light and just have it mostly focused on the cosplayer’s face.  During post I did the basic edits then enhanced the lighting. I used two circular gradients, one to add a touch more light to the cosplayers face then an inverse gradient to slightly darken the area around the cosplayer.  I then finished the image with a heavy vignette.  The key to this image is to ensure you can see the details while still pushing the shadows to black.

ISO 200, Aperture F9, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 18mm

Overall, this was a nice location, even if it was a bit warm inside.  While yes, the location has air conditioning, it is not great. I was able to get some nice photos, and work with the setting.  I can’t comment on the food at the tavern since I didn’t have lunch there after the shoot.  You can see all the final photos from the shoot here: Gadsby’s Tavern.


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